The Best Sci-Fi Movies Of 2017 (So Far)

The year has brought us holographic Jon Hamms, Amazonian heroines, and one giant, cuddly pig

The science fiction genre used to be all about rockets and space and aliens—and it used to feature lumbering actors plodding around in ridiculous alien suits. Sci-fi established itself as a serious art form in the later years of the last century, and now we see dystopian thrillers and haunting alien-themed dramas earning a slew of Oscar nominations. While the genre still has room for silly, off-the-wall adventure stories, more and more directors are examining serious character studies and asking big questions about the nature of humanity while also incorporating alien battles and artificial intelligence. There have been plenty of great sci-fi films so far this year (and there's at least one major release on the way with the word "Jedi" in the title); here's the best that the year has had to offer so far.

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Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets

The latest from The Professional and The Fifth Element director Luc Besson might be an acquired taste—a completely bonkers sci-fi epic with stars Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne traversing through the universe on official space bureaucratic business. (Sure!) Plus, there's a slew of wild CGI alien creatures and a completely necessary musical cameo from Rihanna. Buy/rent on Amazon.

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The Discovery

A scientist makes a phenomenal discovery when he finds evidence that the afterlife is real—which leads to mass suicides on Earth. Two years later, his estranged son returns to his home to find his father has set up a colony for those who attempted suicide—and he has another secret about the other world.

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Alien: Covenant

Ridley Scott's latest addition to the Alien franchise is a prequel to his 1979 original (and a sequel to the polarising Prometheus). A crew of Americans travel through space to colonise a new planet; upon discovering another inhabitable planet, they take a detour to scope out the new land. Crisis ensues, naturally, when their team is picked off one by one by deadly xenomorphs. But this action-packed thriller has a philosophical side, touching on Scott's favourite themes of humanity and creation. Buy/rent on Amazon.

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Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

The sequel to Marvel's comic blockbuster picks up where the original left off, with this ragtag group of space outcasts scrambling to keep their crew together as their leader Star Lord discovers that his father is alive (and in space). Keeping the spirit of the previous installment alive, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 brings the return of its irreverent, comic cast of characters that makes it one of the most fun Marvel properties yet. Buy/rent on Amazon.

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War for the Planet of the Apes

It's not your parents' campy Planet of the Apes franchise, and the third installment in the latest reboot of the series has come a long way from the first (a silly origin story starring James Franco). Here we have Andy Serkis doing some of his best motion-capture work as Caesar, the ape who leads an army against his human enemies. It's dark, brutal, and smartly written, and features a knockout performance from Woody Harrelson as the cold and obsessive man hell-bent on destroying the apes. Buy/rent on Amazon.

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Wonder Woman

Wonder Woman's appearance on the big screen was a long time coming, and her first stand-alone feature was well worth the wait. Patty Jenkins's epic serves as an origin story for the Amazon superhero, and its third act has all of the typical comic book movie cliches. But it's also charming, funny, impeccably filmed, and features a star-making performance from Gal Gadot—the sole bright spot in DC's dismal cinematic universe. Buy/rent on Amazon and iTunes.

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Kong: Skull Island

No one needed (or, frankly, asked for) this new King Kong feature. But it's a rollercoaster ride of action, adventure, and legitimate comedy. Just after the Vietnam War, a government-led expedition seeks to explore a mysterious island that has surfaced on satellite imagery in the South Pacific. But their exploration is cut short when the crew discovers it's inhabited by one giant ape—and he's not the only massive creature who's roaming about. Buy/rent on Amazon.

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Marjorie Prime

In the near future, a service provides holographic versions of departed loved ones. The 86-year-old Marjorie has one of her own: a recreation of her late husband when he was still in his prime that brings back happy memories to her life. Her grown children, however, are less enthused—particularly Marjorie's son, who must come face-to-face with his father as an adult.

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Okja

Snowpiercer director Bong Joon Ho returns with another delightfully mad sci-fi satire, this time following a young girl named Mija and her bizarre, giant pig-like companion named Okja. Their friendship is put to the test when the Mirando Corporation seizes Okja and takes him from his home in the woods of South Korea to New York; Mija follows in hot pursuit, encountering eco-activists, devious capitalists, and one purely manic Jake Gyllenhaal. Tilda Swinton also delivers a diabolical double-role in this dark, yet touching, adventure. Available to stream on Netflix.

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Blade Runner 2049

The much-anticipated sequel to Ridley Scott's cult classic may have come 35 gruelling years after the original (and didn't meet box office expectations). But Blade Runner 2049 is a visual masterpiece, with director Denis Villeneuve (fresh off from earning an Oscar nomination for Arrival) not only matching his predecessor's style but continuing its mystery and widening the scope of this dystopian future well beyond a dark and gritty Los Angeles.

From: Esquire